Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rangers Fan Fest

First, I would like to congratulate Victor Rojas on winning the first annual Texas Rangers Trades Broadcaster of the Year award. Victor received 39% of the votes on the poll, which ran for over two weeks. Thanks to everyone who voted. I was able to give Victor the trophy at the Awards banquet on Friday and he really appreciated it.

I just got back from a trip to Disneyland with my parents, my sister, and my grandparents. We had a great time and spent four days at the Disneyland parks. While we were there we saw a Lakers game at the Staples Center. The Lakers beat the Nuggets 116-99.

This weekend I went to all the Rangers events. Friday night was the Awards Banquet, where they give out the yearly awards (player of the year, pitcher of the year, etc.) and do interviews. Eric Nadel and Victor Rojas did a great job hosting this year’s dinner. It was a lot of fun. I got to meet some of the new players and also talk to Jon Daniels and CJ Wilson for awhile. Eleno Ornelas was at our table and gave me some tips on broadcasting.

On Saturday, my dad and I went to the Rangers Fan Fest. I’ve gone every year since I was 3 and it’s always a great event.

We got there right around the time they opened at 9am and, unlike last year, the process for getting inside was pretty quick. We decided not to try to get any of the 10am autographs so that we could go to the 10am Josh Hamilton Q&A. So we spent the first hour doing the scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt is where you go to different stations around the ballpark, and Rangers employees will stamp a piece of paper and give you small prizes at each stop. Once you have stamps from each station, you go to the last station to get free Rangers tickets and enter to win a trip.

At 10am, we went to the Legends of the Game Museum to see the Josh Hamilton Q&A. We sat with John Siburt, our preacher, who was saving seats for his family for the Michael Young Q&A at 11am. His daughter, Katie, is a huge Michael Young fan, but she couldn’t get in the Michael Young autograph line before the tickets ran out (she got in Marlon Byrd’s line instead) so they decided they had to be sure to get in the Michal Young Q&A. Katie is 6 years old, and a huge Rangers fan. She even had a Rangers birthday party and got on TV last summer during one of the Jim Knox segments of a game. Katie ended up getting Michael’s autograph after the Q&A, so everything worked out for her.

Victor Rojas hosted the Josh Hamilton Q&A. Josh seemed like a really good guy and very humble. He focused a lot on God and on how he knows that it’s because of God that he’s recovered from his issues and is still able to play so well. He talked about how amazing it is that he basically didn’t play baseball for years and came back at the level he did. He said that it could only be because of God.
Other interesting things:
- He got drafted on his dad’s birthday.
- Last year, when the Cubs took him in the Rule 5 draft, he called everyone to tell them he was going to the Cubs. He then had to call everyone back 20 minutes later and tell them that it was now the Reds.
- He was wearing a bandage on his middle finger and said that he had hurt it playing catch.
- I asked him what he learned from Ken Griffey Jr. and if there was any tension in taking Ken’s center field spot. Josh said that Griff was a great guy who never said anything negative about Josh taking center field. He was very helpful and would always yell ‘in’ or ‘back’ when a ball was hit.
- He took a call from his wife during the session to give her directions to a store.

After the Q&A session, I introduced myself to Josh and asked if I could interview him for my blog. He was friendly and agreed to contact me to set it up.

We then went to the Newberg table to see if we could still get his 10am guests (Chris Davis and John Whittleman). We were amazed to see that there was a huge line there, much longer than we normally see for the Newberg table. We got in line and by the time we got to the front, Jamey’s 11am guests (Doug Mathis and John Mayberry) had arrived. But Chris and John stayed extra time so we got all four autographs. All of the players were really nice and Doug, Chris, and John remembered me from the December Bound Edition release party.

We then walked around the booths in the Diamond Club, where different businesses had set up tables. TR Sullivan had a booth selling his new book that he wrote with scout Mel Didier, called ("Podnuh Let
Me Tell You a Story: A Baseball Life"). I spent some time talking with TR, which is always fun, and Mel, who’s been involved with baseball for a long time. I started reading the book during the day and it has some good stories in it. I also saw my friend, Ryan Wolfson, there in the Diamond Club.

At around noon, we went back to the Newberg table and got autographs from Blake Beavan and Taylor Teagarden. They were also very nice and both remembered me from other Newberg events.

We then got some lunch and waited in line to get autographs from Ben Broussard and Brandon McCarthy.

Eleanor and Jamey had arranged for me to interview Taylor after he was done signing, so Taylor, my dad, and I went to a private area and did the interview. It was my first face-to-face interview (all of the others have been over the phone or email). Taylor was really nice to do the interview and Eleanor and Jamey were really nice to set it up. I’ll have it on next week’s blog.

Next, we went back to the Newberg table to see Josh Lewin. He was very friendly like always and asked me how my basketball season was going. He was promoting one of his books (“You Never Forget Your First: Ballplayers Recall Their Big League Debuts”).

Next, we went to the alumni autograph table and got autographs from Rich Billings, Mike Jeffcoat, Pete O’Brien, Eric Nadel, Dan Smith, and Curtis Wilkerson.

We then went back to the Newberg table for their last guest, German Duran. He is also a great guy and said he had read my blog since I last saw him.

On our way out, we saw Mike Ogulnick and he said he was going to have me back on his show before Spring Training to break down the team.

Next we got into line to get Jason Jenning’s autograph (he was signing at 3pm). We finished up with the 4pm autographs: Kason Gabbard, Kameron Loe, and Travis Metcalf. I talked to Kameron for awhile about my LA trip and Travis agreed to let me interview him.

As we were walking out, we noticed that CJ Wilson was sitting at a table talking to people and signing autographs. He was promoting his Guitar Hero charity event this Friday night at the Southwest Airlines headquarters. We talked to him for awhile and got his autograph.

At that point it was 5pm and the Fan Fest was shutting down. We had a great time like always. Like usual, the best table was the Newberg table. He had great guests and I enjoyed talking with Jamey, Eleanor Czajka, and Allen Cordrey.

Come back next week for the Taylor Teagarden interview.


EMC said...

Grant -

Had a nice time sitting with your family at the Banquet on Friday night - that is always a fun event.

Thanks for the kind words about the Newberg Report table - we had a great group of guys this year.

I'm so glad you were able to interview Taylor Teagarden - I'm looking forward to reading it.


grantlovesbaseball said...

Hi Eleanor,

The awards banquet is always fun. I had a nice time sitting with you, too. Thanks again for setting up the interview.


Ken Pittman said...

Nice overview of Fan Fest. I'm looking forward to the future interviews that you mentioned.